BBC Online reports that the British Big Cats Society has compiled evidences which seems to corroborate the growing number of sightings of lynx, leopards, and pumas in the South West of England, and has called for a serious study of the problem by appropriate public agencies.
Though lynx populations have dropped from about 600 in 1996 to no more than 350 now, the annual lynx hunt is still set at 85 animals, including females and cubs. Norway's hunting tactics need to change, says the WWF, noting that the annual wolf cull in 2001 halved the living wolf population in the country, and the lynx hunt is getting close to the same numbers, making extinction in the region inevitable.
More attention is being focused on the Iberian Lynx, topic of a previous Flayrah article. Europe's "last big cat" needs more than just good intentions, says the IUCN, the World Conservation Union's, cat specialist group. It needs the rabbits it feeds on to be protected as well. Myxomatosis was introduced to control rabbits, and a later viral haemorrhagic fever almost whiped out the regional population. Now habitat must be returned to its wild state, and that includes reintroducing rabbits along with cats in the near future.
Ironically enough, the mistaken desire for 'environmentally friendly' replacements for cork, a crop that doesn't harm the tree and encouranges people to leave old growth forests be, is causing the extinction of the Iberian lynx. Though it's not the first feline extinction of the modern age, as the article mistakenly claims, it is still a catastrophic loss. The cork forests which were the home of this highly endangered cat are being cut down to plant crops as the livelyhood of the local farmers shifts from cork as synthetics reduce the market for the real thing.
Some random animal news now: NOAA embarks on a mission to rescue an injured right whale despite the weather and difficulties involved; and two lynx kittens found in a clear cut forest in Maine. The latter article is especially interesting in its mention of how humans can plan how they're going to use the resources of nature in such a way that it can actually provide more opportunities for wildlife than would have occurred naturally. This is similar to the premise of a book I finished reading by a naturalist, Eco-Geography (link to Amazon). Worth the read for those of you interested in sustainable living in a way that neither insists that all human life is inimical to the pristine and perfect natural world nor assumes that we're hell-bent on destroying everything in our selfish quest for material wealth.